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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  PBS  February 9, 2013 11:30am-12:00pm PST

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>> funding for "to the contrary" provided by:
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the cornell douglas foundation committed to encouraging stewardship of the environment, land conservation, watershed protection and eliminating harmful chemicals. additional funding provided by: the colcom foundation. the wallace genetic foundation and by the charles a. frueauff foundation. >> this week on "to the contrary" >> it's given me a new mission and i get to do this. >> i needed to be in a position to have some kind of effect. >> i certainly want to help other republican women think about running for office. >> i see government as a tool to be able to help people. >> now i have an opportunity to join them to carry the torch for future generations for women and their families.
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>> hello, i'm bonnie erbe on capitol hill for this special edition of "to the contrary." there are a record number of women are serving in the 113th congress. twenty in the senate, 78n th house. e % othe women serving in this session of congress are freshmen. this week we introduce you to some of them. >> i ran in 2006 because of my concerns of how our service members returning home from iraq and afghanistan were being treated. >> she didn't win in 2006.
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later me started working for the departnt of veterans fairunder presidt oba. t, duckworth decided to run again in 2012. >> and then when the wave happened in 2010, we had a lot of tea party congressmen who were elected, including the one who represented me who simply refused to do their jobs as congressmen and were very much ideologically driven as opposed to driven by the need to serve the constituents. that's when i decided that, you know, i started thinking about running again. >> her concern for veterans stems from her own military service. 200 sheas servin in iraq. >> i had been in iraq at this point eight months, i had been away from home 11 and i was just doing a regular day's mission flying a black hawk helicopter. i was the co-pilot on the crew and we had flown a full day of missions, i had a really good day. the weather was getting better,
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it wasn't so hot anymore, i was flying with a crew that i had really got along with and two aircrafts. and at the end of the day, this was during the second battle for faluja and we were not in the batt bute we in neby area and what had happened was some of the insurgents who had been flushed out of faluja had been holed up in an area and we were ambushed in flight and they shot at us with a number of things. small arms...we were hit with small arms fire and a rocket propel grenade which is what exploded on me and we were able to land the aircraft. the last thing i remember trying to shut down the engines on an emergency shut down. >> she woke up a double amputee, losing both legs. how did it change her life? >> it'sreeing. it's been a gift and i choose to look at it as a gift.
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yes, my life is infinitely difficult physically. i can't do the things that are great passions in my life, you know my unit is deployed right now and there's a piece of my heart with them and i can't be there. it's given me a new mission and i get to do this for them. >> she wants to help the mitary with her new national platform. >> there's so many things that need to be done. i think there's a responsibility to, if we're going to go to war, have a discussion of how we will use these men and women. right? they're the ones who bleed. so we don't make decisions to go to war recklessly, we have honest discussions of the cost of war. if we're going to expend our greatest national treasure, it better be for the right reasons. and then they better be well equipped. and en wn thy co home, whether not they have visible wounds, we need to take care of them and we need to take care of
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>> duckworth wants to make sure military decisions are made with the best information and the most discussion possible. >> i think that hopefully i can be a voice to say, well i'm not weak on defense and i will go tomorrow. i'm still serving in the national guard. i don't know what they could do with a gimpy lieutenant colonel but maybe i can wash windshields or something, i can still do that. but, but if we're going to d is, and i will be the first to volunteer to go, but we're going to have a discussion. we're going to have a good thorough discussion where we don't demonize or vilify one another because we someone is questioning the motivation and the benefits of this nation. right...if we're going to invade another country, if it's truly in the greatest interest of the united states then absolutely, let's have that discussion and if we're going to do it then we're going to do it. >> duckworth's motivation to run for office was her commitment to veterans and their families.
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but she wants to serve everyone in her district. >> these are my neighbors, this was my life. this was my life before i was deployed to iraq. and so i understand this district because this is me, you know, these families live the experience that i live. their kids go to public schools like i went to public schools. many of them rely on government assistance. you know, i was on food stamps as a teenager because my dad had lost his job when he was 55 and no one would hire him because he was just simply too old and they didn't want to take a chance on a 55-year-old. lot of the people iny dirict are hing e same problem and so i see this district just as, it's my life, it's their life, we have the same experiences. >> and she hopes congress will continue to look more like the people it represents. >> the true strength of america is the diversity of her people and what we bring to the table. and i think that government and leadership, whether it is in
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government or corporations or not for profits, need to reflect the american people and i don't think e united stes government right nowefles e amicaneople. we don't have the same number of women in leadership roles in congress as we do women in this nation and same thing with persons of color. i am the first asian-american elected to an office other than alderman of a city in the state of illinois. that's shameful that it took this long. but i'm certainly not going to be the last. >> tulsi gabbard is the opposite of the old guard in d.c. politics. the first hindu in congress and first american samoan, is also one of the first female combat veterans sworn in to serve in the house of representatives. >> i had enlisted in the hawaii army national guard in 2003 the year after i was elected and really it was because i wanted
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to do more to serve my state and to serve our country. the job that i was trained to do in medical logistics and operations was already filled by someone else so i was not on that mandatory deployment roster, but knew very quickly that there was no way that i could stay home in the comfort of my house and my job and beautiful hawaii and watch my 3,000 brothers and sisters in uniform deploy overseas. so i withdrew form my reelection campaign and got trained in a different job and volunteered to go serve on that 18-month deployment. >> tulsi gabbard, the youngest woman to be elected to a state legislature left her job there to serve her country. it was an experience that changed her forever. >> i don't believe that anyone can go through an experience and not come back a different person. i completely broadened my perspective, changed my
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perspective on the world and felt very strongly that i needed to be in a position to have some kind of effect on this ever shrinking global community - on foreign policy, on veterans, serving our military families and our service members. >> gabbard joins illinois' tammy duckworth as the first two female combat veterans sworn into office. gabbard takes that responsibility seriously. >> it's kind of amazing that it's taken this long because we've had women who've raised their hands and volunteered to serve on the frontlines dating all the way back to the civil war. and the fact that we have over 1.8 million women veterans across the country, women who are leaving their families, leaving their jobs, leaving school behind to go and serve our country every single day is a story that hasn't been told enough. women face unique challenges in
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military service but also bring unique contributions that also need to be talked about. so that's one thing that i look forward to being able to do is to be a voice for this huge constituency of selfless heroes that hasn't really had a firsthand voice or a strong voice here in congress >> and for gabbard, being in congress is about serving the people, not about partisan bickering. >> when you look at a lot of the frustration that people have with congress from the otside looking in, you look at the frustration that members have here it all stems from the fact that people feel that they have been forgotten. real people, real families who are struggling who understand that this place here is the people's house and the people who are elected to serve here are elected to serve them. and when people get caught up in the blame game and saying who's right and who's wrong and criticizing each other and pointing out all of the negatives i believe that they lose sight of why they're
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actually here. >> gabbard hopes to stay focused on her goal -- using her spirituality as a cornerstone. >> it really does come from the practice of karma yoga, from my hindu practice - and karma yoga really being the essence of dedicating everything that you do to benefit others, to have a positive impact on other people. and dove tailing whatever line of work you're in, in that service leadership concept. >> gabbard wants to make sure other members of the 113th ngress rember y the are in d.c. >> it's really trying our best to be an embodiment of this service leadership concept and that when one person starts other people start to catch on. and other people also are similarly inspired to remember why they came here in the first place, what motivated them to
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come here in the first place. and in hawaii this is what we call "aloha." bringing "aloha" here and "aloha" is seen in a lot of ways sometimes seen as you know you go the flower lais and the hula girls but, really the essence of "aloha" is having respect for each other regardless of our differences, regardless of things you may disagree on and listening. >> i've never run for office before, first time i've run for office before, so first time office holder. >> however, brooks is no stranger to public life. >> i was the united states attorney during the bush administration. before that i had been a deputy mayor in the city of indianapolis in thlate 90s under mayor goldsmith. right before running for office i was a senior vice president and general council for our state's community college system called ivy tech community college. it's been more my time at ivy tech and working with the unemployed and the underemployed and really the issues facing the country now, which are jobs and
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the economy. it's the reason i jumped into the race. >> born and raised in indiana, brooks is married and the mother of two adult children. she plans to spend her time in washington creating jobs in her home state. >> we have a couple of counties in my district that still have over a 10% unemployment rate. we need to make sure that we're creating an environment where companies want to grow their jobs, where the private sector wants to grow jobs and bring more people into the work force. there are a lot of issues right now as to why they're not growing jobs, why they're not creating jobs and those are the things i want to focus on, like tax reform, which i think we're going to be very focused on in the 113th congress. >> of the three new republican >> of the three new republican women in the house, two of them are from indiana. >> my counterpart to the northern part of the state, jackie walorski and i are the first women to represent indiana since 1958. republican women that is, there have been some democrat women.
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we're the first republican women, so there is a big push, not only in our state but i think across the country to try and recruit more women to run for office. >> brooks wants to see more women in the congress, but she says it may not be for everyone. >> we hope to be role models and mentors to other and encourage people to think about running but be very practical about what it takes. it does take a toll on families and it can take a toll on finances for families. and so those are things that i think we as women need to share with each other but yet we need to encourage them to run because we are very much underrepresented in congress i think in both parties. and so we want to keep a focus on that and i certainly want to help republican women think about running for office. >> brooks also wants to reach across the aisle to get the know all the women serving with her. >> i think the message of the
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voters that sent to the new members of the 113th congress is they want people to work on these great problems that this country's facing. they want to do it in a bipartisan way, they don't want us to leave our principles at the door but they want us to find common ground. they want us to try to figure out how to work together. that was a message that i carried throughout the primary and into the general and it won the day and i found that with members of the other party as well. >> representative brooks says her children were instrumental in her campaign. >> it was very exciting to have a lot of 18-year-old seniors in high school involved in the campaign and a lot of young college kids involved. and so we've got to keep them involved because the problems that the country is facing are theirs to inherit. and so i'm going to work very hard to encourage and keep a lot of young people involved. >> brooks wants them to know she understands the challenges they face. she's seen first hand through
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her children, their friends and her work just how tough the job market is tay. >> if we don't turn this economy around and get jobs growing again, we're going to have a generation of young people coming out of school that aren't going to be put on that career path that they worked so hard for in getting that education, many of them taking out loans and working hard. and so they're bumping up against people with real experience and adults that are also looking for jobs and trying to take care of their families. and so that's why i think we are not where this country needs to be in creating jobs. i have pretty much a zig-zaggy career that lead to this point. i was a journalist, always in print journalism for 17 years, i pretty much had every beat that you could have. started out on the cop beat, covered city hall, was an investigative reporter, covered
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health, oversaw education coverage, business coverage, all of that. at one time i ran half the newsroom as an editor. >> bustos left journalism for a communications position for a healthcare company. she entered local politics serving on the city council in east moline, illinois. that led her to run for congress. >> it's maybe a lofty goal but, and i hope it's not idealistic and i hope we can make this happen but it's really just making sure we represent the district in a very honorable and honest fashion, make sure that we look at government as a way to hel i don't see govnment, i don'see congress as the enemy. i see government as a tool to be able to help people and that's a driver for me. >> sheilas balanced her job and family for many years.
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but it wasn't until her sons were grown that she chose to make the leap to federal office. >> my kids now are grown, my youngest son is 22 years old, i have three sons, i now have two grandkids. and when my kids were young i don't think i would have been in a position where i would have been able to run for congress. >> bustos says she could only be successful in her career because she and her husband have been a team >> i am lucky theave spouse that does all of our cooking. it's not my talent it hatches to be his. we very much share the workload at home when it comes to all the stuff that you have to do to make your home functional. and if you don't have a supportive family i don't know how anybody could do, you know, not just r for congress but to be successful in whatever their careers are you've got to have that support. >> bustos wants to bring that level of cooperation to washington dc.
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>> i think the american people are crying out for having not just their own representative in congress but for congress as a whole to work together. we heard about it everywhere. what i talked about, how do you make that map, how as a new member can you play part. before i'm sworn i will i will reach out to every new member of congress whether they be democrat or they be republican. vo #4 >> with that bipartisanship, also comes some friendly ribbing. >> i've met several of the republican spouses and i jokingly said to a woman, she, her husband represents upstate new york, and the wife and i had a very nice conversation and i jokingly said, gees you sm moreike democratic spous
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you're a lot of fun. and her husband heard me saying this, i said, yeah, she is like a democrat, she spends like a democrat. i said, okay, we're getting into stereotypes here, but the point is, we're people. >> bustos hopes being part of the most diverse caucus will allow her to do just that. >> you saw the number of women there, you saw the number of latinos and african americans and asians, it's great. it's such a great reflection of america and a great reflection of the district that we represent, that i represent now and i loved it. i think it's, if we can reflect america, and keep in mind if we truly do that it's going to be 51% of the members of congress will be women at some point, if we're truly going to reflect america.
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>> deep roots in new mexic my family has been there for 400 years. we know that at least 12 generations, we're doing a little more research, identified 13, probably by the time i'm done we'll be able to show that my family goes back 16 generations in new mexico. >> with her election, lujan grisham continues her family's political legacy. >> my grandfather was the first hispanic chief justice in the state. my cousin was actually a republican member in congress and the secretary of interior and my father was the first public health dentist in new mexico. and my mother was one of the first advocates for special education and appropriate home services for children with disabilities. so i come at this naturally and also enjoy a really long, wonderful career advocating for women and families. >> women's issues are important to lujan grisham. >> job creation and the economy, these are women's issues. we're often the last line of the
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economic security for our families, we're still fighting for equal pay, it affects our ability to do education and child care. and in my situation where i've got an adult daughter who's going back to college and a mother who lives with me, i'm her caretaker, that dealing with the caring of our aging parents, these are all economic security issues for women and their families. >> lujan grisham believes in zero tolerance when it comes to the erosion of women's reproductive rights. >> it's time to start by making sure that we never allow the debate or any of those issues to occur like they did with the war on women in congss ever again. it is clear that many of the economic policies, and getting job creating and the economy moving, didn't move at all because we were defending women's health care choices and women's rights or equality issues in general. and every piece of legislation was blocked or stalled as a result
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>> so she is ready to move forward. as a single mother, lujan grisham says policies in washington need to be family friendly and take into account the millions of households headed by single women. >> we need to make sure that we're protecting head start in early childhood education. ///. transportation issues, particularly in a state like mine that doesn't have an effective public transportation system, it really changes the opportunities for jobs, and economic security for women and their children. and i'm really excited about the opportunity to make sure that we get the violence against women act. this is another policy that plagues single households, often the cause of that situation. >> she is a lifelong advocate of healthcare for senior citizens and plans to continue that work. >> i don't want us to forget in healthcare reform that long term care and the aging of america are significant issues and quite frankly in terms of the budget issues and the financial
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security issues, i think will be more difficult to tackle successfully. i want to be one of the advocates in the state of new mexico that talks about the benefits of medicaid expansion and making sure that infrastructure investments for public health and hospitals gets done in a meaningful way. >> during her time in office, lujan grisham will push for policies that help women make decisions that are both good for themselves and their families. >> if i have to choose between supporting my children to go to college or taking care of my parents or paying for additional benefits outside of my new essential benefits plan under the affordable care act, or putting food on the table, families begin to make choices that are not healthy for those families. >> lujan grisham says she's optimistic and ready to work especially with the women's caucus. >> these are the won who sound the alarm and fought for me and my daughters and i
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appreciate that i now have an opportunity to join them to carry the torch for future generations of women and their families. >> that's it for this special edition of to the contrary. please follow me on twitter @bonnie erbe and @to the contrary and check our website, where the discussion continues. whether you agree or think, to the contrary, please join us next time. >> funding for "to the contrary"
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provided by: thcornell douglas foundation committed to encouraging stewardship of the environment, land conservation, watershed protection and eliminating harmful chemicals. additional funding provided by: the colcom foundation. the wallace genetic foundation and by the charles a. frueauff foundation. for a copy of "to the contrary" please contact federal news service at 1-888-343-1940.
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